The third report in our series on Corporate Innovation, this report documents how companies have organized for innovation success.
When innovation occurs in multiple pockets throughout a corporation, organizing to thrive and achieve results may seem an arduous––if not impossible!––task. In Catalyst Companies’ new research report, we detail five models that corporations are organizing under to achieve maximum efficiency, ideation, collaboration, and output from their innovation programs.
It’s much like building an orchestral ensemble, wherein a conductor leads multiple musicians and instruments that must act in concert in order to make beautiful music. For each of the five distinct models for corporate innovation, we pair them with easy-to-grasp metaphors that relate to how musicians organize as they mature in their craft. Within each model you’ll learn its pros and cons, who makes decisions, the speed of innovation, and the typical amount of funnels. See the infographic below for a preview of the research:
This members-only report also outlines the top challenges corporations face in organizing for innovation, including a lack of understanding around org model best practices, slow-moving efforts with unclear goals, and departmental or BU “bottlenecks.” Readers will also better understand the types of internal and external funnels that feed innovation efforts, and recommendations in selecting the right model for your company’s size, resources, and innovation vision.
A Sneak Peek at the Most Mature Model: “Symphony Orchestra”
As organizations work their way through innovation program maturity, the ultimate end goal is complete orchestration led by an aligned, visionary group of leaders. We call this model the “Symphony Orchestra.” Multi-functional Innovation CoE of senior leaders from all departments operate in concert with a view of all innovation efforts within the organization. The CoE enables innovation across multiple departments within the company, and members serving on the CoE are also responsible for senior leadership within various corporate groups. Common departments included: marketing/digital, PR, legal, HR, IT, and product. The goal of the CoE is to standardize and scale innovation across the company, providing guidance to efforts that do not yet have dedicated teams or leadership.
Through interviewing nearly 20 senior leaders at large organizations, Catalyst Companies aims to better innovation leaders’ understanding of how to organize their company for rapid innovation. This is best done throughout an orchestration of multiple business units, departments, and teams––all aligning together under common goals and vision for success. For a more robust preview of the report, or to inquire about becoming a Catalyst Companies member, please email Carl Bohlin, Member Success Manager, at carl [at] catalystcompanies.co.
As part of my continued research stream on corporate innovation at Catalyst Companies, an Innovation Council, we’ve completed 3/4 research reports on how large companies are acting more like startups. Here’s some of the findings of how companies formalized innovation programs are shaping up. In this latest research effort, which I partnered with Jaimy Szymanski, looks at how companies are measuring their innovation efforts.
Success of Innovation Programs Depends on Metrics
We’ve identified the most common innovation programs in previous research. However, these programs – and innovation efforts themselves – will fail if metrics are assumed to be equal across all domains. Challenge: Early innovation efforts shouldn’t be measured by revenue –especially when compared to billion dollar product lines. So how should companies measure? Here’s what we found:
Fallacy: Revenue is King
At a high level the typical metric most often discussed at corporate is return on investment (ROI) or what shareholders prefer to hear, revenue. This mindset has, and will, condemn any formalized innovation efforts and undermine the success of innovation leaders themselves. Organizations with successful innovation programs reveal specific metrics for success – which may not include revenue, yet.
Recipe for Success
For any innovation program to mature it must have appropriate metrics aligned at the onset which will ultimately result in the organization’s goal of increased revenue in the long term. The metrics below were gained through qualitative analysis of Fortune 500 companies within the Catalyst Companies Council, as well as outside corporate executives, startup innovators and ecosystem experts.
Programs and their Success Metrics
- Dedicated Innovation Team
- Metrics are indistinguishable between these programs. Ideation is the key for these programs and should be accounted for accordingly.
- Amount of ideas generated to “top of funnel”, incubated, prototyped or meaningfully launched to market.
- Speed and efficiency for each of the aforementioned
- Return on marketing investment or product development expense
- Increase of customer satisfaction through specific metrics like NPS, testimonials or another identified metric
- Effectiveness of a new product or service through measurements like adoption, growth, retention etc
- Percent of leadership time spent on innovation vs daily operations.
Engagement is key for this program’s success. As such metrics should be assigned to measure overall involvement. Things like:
- Employee participation, trained or engaged
- Role or rank of participants
- Amount of workshops, training and attendance
- Amount of ideas submitted or generated
- Amount of ideas generated by innovation sponsors BU as compared to others
- Conversion rates of ideas
- ROI from ideas to market
- Efficiency of time to market
- Customer satisfaction
Allowing external parties into corporate provides a symbiotic relationship which must be measured. Participating parties look to their benefits of things like potential funding or corporate support. Corporations must measure;
- Amount of ideas generated or participation through votes, comments or engagement
- Quality of start-ups participating in challenge/contest
- Amount of ideas that generate minimum viable product (MVP), measured per quarter
- Amount of ideas to production
- Efficiency from idea to MVP to production
- Development costs MVP or POC
- ROI and use of products resulting from challenge, contest or program
Metrics Tell Your Story and Prove Your Worth!
Aligning the innovation groups goals to corporate initiatives has never been more important. Revenue cannot be the only measurement, or the group and its leaders & personnel, will fail miserably. Identification of metrics at the start – including desired business outcome – will help determine which program is best suited for your organizational goals.
To learn more about this research, please send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Above: Click to see high-res version, of the 10 Corporate Innovation Programs
Recently, at Crowd Companies, we published a research report on the Corporate Innovation Imperative (short version available on Slideshare), and found that companies are struggling internally with cultural pushback, but they’ve launched over ten innovation programs to help large companies become nimble. This handy graphic, is organized in the following way:
- It lists all ten innovation programs that companies are launching. Keep in mind, many companies are deploying several, but few are doing them all well. In our full report for customers, we have adoption and budget details.
- They’re organized with the center programs being internal programs, and the outside circle are programs that are partnering with the external ecosystem, often with startups.
- Descriptions are provided on the top and bottom of the graphic, to help bring to life the various programs. Often people are most intrigued by the Intrepreneur Program or Open Innovation programs.
Thank you Jaimy Szymanski and Vlad Mirkovic for their assistance on this project. Also, we’re conducting a few followup reports on Corporate Innovation Metrics, processes, and internal organizational models. Contact me at jeremiah at CrowdCompanies.com if you know of a large company we should interview, or a vendor that’s helping with these goals.
Do you have proven success measures for your corporate innovation programs? If so, we’d like to interview you for an upcoming Crowd Companies report that I’m working on with Jaimy Szymanski
The report will showcase how companies are measuring success for each of the 10 corporate innovation programs established in previous Crowd Companies research. Looking internally and externally, we’ll examine how companies are determining the right objectives and key performance indicators (KPIs) to align innovation program efforts with over-arching corporate and departmental goals.
This research will also delve into the challenges faced in measuring success, software and other tactics used for data analysis, and provide recommendations for aligning current digital, customer service, and product development metrics to fit with innovation programs. Readers will finish the report with a better understanding of how their innovation program(s) can contribute to greater, measurable organizational growth.
Interviews last approximately 30 minutes, and nothing will be shared without your approval. The report will be available in full to Crowd Companies members, and partially to the public.
Ideal interview candidates fulfill one or more of the following criteria:
- Be in an innovation position (senior leadership preferred) at a large corporation, or otherwise contribute to company business model changes,
- Ideate new products or features, or improvements to existing products and services,
- Build new customer experiences brought forth by disruptive technologies,
- Responsible for strategy and execution of one or more corporate innovation programs, internal or external,
Do you fit the bill? Please email me at Jeremiah@CrowdCompanies.com for more information. Thank you in advance for contributing to our research that will benefit all corporate innovators.
Photo via Pexels
By Jeremiah Owyang and Jaimy Szymanski
Corporations are struggling to keep pace with technology trends, but the real innovation challenge lies in their internal culture. In other words? The “tech issue” isn’t an issue! According to our recent survey, the top challenge companies face in corporate innovation is fostering an internal culture of experimentation and innovation (57%).
Truly innovative companies focus on setting a foundation with the right people and empowering them, as well as governance, before large investments take place that lack direction, resources, or goals. These corporations are diversifying their hiring strategies in the face of rapidly disruptive technologies, consumer adoption of related trends, and the advent of new business models that emerge from the two. In order to remain competitive in an environment that embraces rapid startup innovation, corporations must focus both internally (on existing talent) and externally (on acquiring new talent) to build their talent pools.
In our latest Crowd Companies report available on Slideshare, “The Corporate Innovation Imperative: How Large Corporations Avoid Disruption by Strengthening Their Ecosystem,” we uncovered three distinct manners in which the most mature corporations approach hiring innovative employees: Intrapreneurship Programs; Technology Education / University Partnerships; and Startup Acquisitions. In the full report available to Crowd Companies members, you’ll also find case examples from corporations that have found success.
Internal employees — dubbed “intrapreneurs” — are given a platform and resources to innovate. These programs invest in employees’ ideas and passions to unlock everything from customer experience improvements to product enhancements and full-blown internal startups that are then launched from within the company. Intrapreneurship programs are an effective and cost-efficient way to surface ideas and shape your business without the need to purchase expensive startups or hire external talent or vendors. They enable rank-and-file employees to contribute to a culture of innovation.
Technology Education / University Partnership
Through an educational partnership, corporations can tap into new university graduates, early-stage projects and companies, and the network of an established educational institution. In addition to traditional universities, there are new private versions opening up that are dedicated solely to technology training, like Galvanize and General Assembly. Partnering with educational institutions provides corporations with a first look at breaking technologies and how they’ll impact our culture through an academic lens. These partnerships are an effective way to secure new talent about to enter the marketplace.
Rather than build innovation from the inside, some corporations acquire successful startups and integrate. While expensive, the startup is often already successful, and the acquisition can help the startup scale further. Acquiring startups showcases a corporation’s focus on the future and evolving its products, services, and customer experiences to meet new expectations. Stanford also shared with us that some companies experiencing a hard time hiring software talent have used “acqui-hiring” to bring people into the company. It can be a useful way to acquire talented employees along with new technologies.
Advanced Companies Focus on People Before Programs
Corporations that retool their hiring strategy to meet the evolving talent needs of their innovation programs will reap the rewards of crafting an innovation team (or “center of excellence”) that has the expertise, experience, and drive to incite change. Our survey also uncovered that dedicated innovation teams (79%), innovation centers of excellence (61%), and technology education / university partnerships (54%) are the most commonly deployed corporate innovation programs (see figure below). This shows that companies are first focusing internally on building the right teams, getting governance and processes in place, and educating current and new employees on emerging technologies before spending time and resources on rolling out external programs or investing in the startup scene.
Other best practices from advanced organizations include:
- Mature corporations understand that an innovation program is only as good as the employees behind it. Follow in the footsteps of corporations like Verizon, which have multiple innovation teams in various business units, each with talented members dedicated to both ideation and execution. This helps them move efficiently to prototype and launch new innovations.
- Also focus on talent retention, as there’s a commonplace and ever-present threat that your best and brightest will be poached (or, at the very least, approached) by competing corporations or startups. Leaders at mature organizations consistently ask themselves, “Are we doing enough to keep our most innovative employees happy?” The most effective incentives tie employee progress on innovation KPIs directly to pay structure.
- Finally, we found that the most advanced companies receive a dedicated budget from the CEO to ensure company-wide support of innovation as a long-lasting cultural mandate––even if the company is not performing well financially.
In our research on corporate innovation, we found the most advanced companies allow competitors to innovate in their own buildings.
Johnson & Johnson Innovation, JLABS enables outside innovation inside the company. As a result, they’re improving the entire industry, including efforts of competitors, in order to positively impact society as a whole.
Above: Crowd Companies’ Carl Bohlin addresses the council on our tour to JLABs in SF.
At its nine sites within North America, JLABS gives startups the tools they need to level the playing field against large, corporate R&D teams. Half of each JLABS space is a common area with state-of-the-art equipment for use, while the other half is comprised of individual labs that help companies get started. JLABS is all new space, not old storage or “leftover” labs, and the facilities are separate and distinct from Johnson & Johnson corporate with no Janssen scientists working there.
The Crowd Companies team was privileged to tour one of the JLABS sites earlier this year, bearing witness to how Johnson & Johnson Innovation is breaking the mold in a big way. During our tour, dinner, and discussion at JLABS in South San Francisco , we found that the culture as a whole is diametrically opposite normal business behavior by inviting anyone into their space in order to innovate and advance specific medicines, medical devices and consumer & digital health solutions.
The concept of JLABS sprouted from a need when JLABS leader Melinda Richter suffered a near fatal medical emergency while traveling internationally, see her TED talk. She made a promise that, if she survived, she would do something to enhance medical efficiency and bring solutions to patients faster and better. From there, JLABS was born and sold to executives. It is now thriving under Richter’s leadership.
JLABS provides their space and tools onsite with no vested interest. Startups and innovators onsite have complete privacy to work without any sharing of IP. Security cameras are not even allowed to be directed where work is being conducted, and participants are encouraged to clean whiteboards after using. If it is presented with an idea of potential, Johnson & Johnson Innovation often pursues deeper partnerships that allow it to shape the ultimate innovation or product at a later date.
JLABS measures its success based on internal financial metrics, quality of innovators coming in, quality of science and technology being developed, development milestones reached, the number of people using its space, and education programs run.
Crowd Companies identifies the JLABS approach to innovation as an advanced program, as it not only benefits the company but also the entire industry. “Common tides raise all boats” in innovation, and Johnson & Johnson Innovation understands that their scientists will only be pushed further toward greatness if up against the best minds, with adequate resources, in the industry.